If last week's 2-0 first-leg home defeat was not enough of a false start to their first UEFA Champions League semi-final, FC Schalke 04 suffered another at Dusseldorf airport on Tuesday with a 90-minute delay caused by a visa problem with their five non-EU squad members.
That small setback – Ralf Rangnick's squad eventually touched down in Manchester an hour behind schedule – was down to the public holidays in Britain on Friday and Monday yet there is no danger of the Schalke players feeling the fates are conspiring against them.
Instead there were only positive words from midfielder Alexander Baumjohann as he looked forward the challenge of making amends for the "bad day" the Royal Blues endured against Manchester United FC in Gelsenkirchen. "In the first leg we had a bad day and United had a good day," said the 24-year-old. "It's up to us to get a good result. We proved we can do it in Milan and that's what we are hoping for tomorrow."
Only two Schalke players have played at Old Trafford before – Raúl González and Angelos Charisteas each scoring here, for Real Madrid CF and Greece respectively. But after hitting five goals at FC Internazionale Milano, Baumjohann said they had no reason to feel like tourists, simply happy to savour the atmosphere.
"I have not been in this stadium, but I'm sure you can compare it to the San Siro," said Baumjohann, stressing there was still a semi-final to be won, however fanciful that might sound. "
It is a dream to play a semi-final in the Champions League and here against great opponents like United but we have not just come here to enjoy ourselves – we have come here hopefully to get a result."
His fellow midfielder Peer Kluge, a second-half substitute last week, offered a similarly determined tone as he spoke about making amends for not just Schalke's first-leg non-performance but also the subsequent 4-1 league defeat at FC Bayern München last Saturday. "
We've come here to play and want to play well, certainly better than last week so I am optimistic. It is not easy, but we are looking to make amends for the last two games. We want to play football tomorrow, show commitment and above all have a good performance."
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